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Will Edmonton Oilers Keep Russell or Benning?

The Edmonton Oilers are likely to move one of Kris Russell or Matt Benning. Who goes and how does Edmonton get the deal done?

According to the opinion of Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, one of Matt Benning or Kris Russell is likely on their way out of Edmonton. Saying the two are closely tied together, Benning requires a new contract while Russell has one that’s far too expensive to stay a third-pairing defenseman on a competitive team, something’s got to give.

Spector recently answered a few questions about the current blue line for the Oilers in a mailbag segment and talked specifically about Russell’s $4 million per season salary. The Oilers will try to move it this summer, but if they can’t, it could mean Benning is on his way out of town.

Spector writes:

GM Ken Holland’s ability to move Russell’s contract will impinge on what the GM will offer Benning, a fellow third-pairing guy who is a restricted free agent (with arbitration) coming out of a $1.9 million deal. Benning turns 26 this month and is properly priced for his role. In an ideal world, a GM moves out the older, more expensive players while keeping the younger, cheaper one.

Suggesting the Oilers priority might be to make room for one of Caleb Jones or Evan Bouchard — both of whom will be cheaper options for Edmonton — the ideal choice would be to get Benning signed at a reasonable deal and move Russell along.

Having said that, Spector does not believe a buyout is part of the solution. In fact, he’s not sure the Oilers will buy out any contracts, even that of James Neal. A compliance buyout would have to be offered by the NHL for that to happen.

So, is there a team that will pick up Russell’s contract? He’s not a terrible d-man, he’ simply overpaid for where the Oilers would like to slot him. Perhaps another team would have an expanded role for him to play.

But, if a Russell deal isn’t out there, how will the Oilers move Benning along?

Related: Winnipeg Jets’ Goalie Situation: Who Will Backup Connor Hellebuyck Next Season?

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